Victorian-Era England Comes Alive in This Witty Romance
For years Charlotte Withersby has worked as an assistant to her father, an eminent English botanist. As she approaches the old age of twenty-four, her father pushes her out into society, swayed by an uncle who believes God’s only two roles for women are marriage and motherhood. When one of the Withersbys’ colonial correspondents, Edward Trimble, returns to England, he’s drafted as the new assistant so Charlotte is free to marry. This suits Edward’s plans quite well, since the last thing he wants to do is reunite with the family he is ashamed to call his own.
Though Edward proves himself vexingly capable on the job, Charlotte won’t surrender the job without a fight, and schemes with her best friend to regain her position. Perhaps if a proposal seems imminent, Charlotte’s father will see his error and ask her to return. Charlotte tries to make headway in her town’s social life, but reveals herself to be unaware of all the intricacies of polite society. Though Edward pitches in, tutoring her in society’s expectations, she just seems to make things worse. And the more she comes to know of her father’s assistant, the more trouble she has imagining life without him. Caught in a trap of her own making and seeing the hopelessness of her prospects, will Charlotte get to keep her work or will she have to cede her heart?
PUBLISHER: Bethany House Publishers
A huge thanks to Bethany House Publishers and Siri Mitchell for sending me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
I have a secret penchant for books about botany-loving protagonists. Now that I’ve told you, it’s not much of a secret anymore. It’s all good. I’ve never read one of Mitchell’s novels, but I wasn’t impressed with this one.
Sheltered, intelligent Charlotte Withersby assists her father in picking and classifying different plants for his work. Since the passing of her mother, she has spent an exorbitant amount of time writing correspondences for him, illustrating plants for him, cleaning up the house for him, etc. Everything she has done has been for him. When her uncle declares that she needs to start looking for a husband, her father agrees, much to her chagrin. At the same time, her father hires a new assistant, the young and handsome Mr. Trimble. Charlotte can’t help but hate the man that has stolen her life’s work. She devises a plan to pretend to be interested in finding a husband in order to steal her job back, but everything doesn’t go as she’d originally planned.
G: Excessive descriptions of plants and one kiss…your elderly grandma could read this and you wouldn’t be embarrassed! Yay!
I tried to keep an open mind about this book while I was reading it. Like I mentioned earlier, I love books about botany-loving protagonists. Plants are so interesting! I believe that this plot held great promise, but it fell short for me. The writing was decent and the cover is beautiful, but the characters didn’t grab my interest like I would’ve liked.
I liked the ending of the novel, but I don’t think it was altogether worth reading just to read the last thirty pages.
My first complaint lies in the pacing of this novel. I can always appreciate a well-researched historical romance, but this novel was filled with too much botanical, scientific information. It was clear to me that Siri Mitchell didn’t have a great grasp on the scientific world of Charlotte Withersby. There was almost an overload of information. As a result, this novel moved at an alarmingly sluggish pace. It took about 200 pages for me to somewhat interested in the plot and that is never a good sign! If I hadn’t been given a copy of this novel, I wouldn’t have finished it. Even so, I skimmed quite a bit.
While I could understand that Charlotte Withersby was a scientific kind of woman–not known for her knowledge of customs or manners–I couldn’t understand her stupidity in social situations. She had absolutely no understanding of how to relate to other people. It’s not like she’s been stuck inside her house her whole life! I found myself annoyed with her throughout this novel.
The romance in this book was not well-founded and seemed completely unnecessary. Romance was one of the main plot points, but there wasn’t much development in Charlotte and Mr. Trimble’s relationship throughout the novel. I didn’t care about them and that made me sad.
Charlotte Withersby struggles with finding her place in the world after Mr. Trimble replaces her. Nathan Angelo is such a sweet, talented musician and this song captures what Charlotte should endeavor to do about her situation. With the help of God, maybe it’ll be easier to listen to her heart. She’ll find her place eventually!
Overall, I’d give this novel a 2.5/5! It was well-written, but the characters aggravated me at times and the plot moved too slow for my enjoyment. I may pick up one of Mitchell’s other books another time, but I wasn’t impressed by this one.